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Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue? 
Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them... 
Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. 
But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

I have very mixed feelings regarding Amy Kathleen Ryan's Glow. On one hand, it does have a very interesting premise. Interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading and see what would happen next... even though I often found it thoroughly creepy and I didn't particularly like any of the characters.

As I read, I kept hoping for a moment when I would feel a spark with a character... any character. It never happened for me. All of the characters felt one dimensional and I didn't feel any passion behind their actions. At times, I felt like scenes were supposed to be intense - they were written with lots of exclamation points and the wording seemed to be carefully selected - but they just weren't. Yes, Glow is set on a space ship and all the rest, but I excepted it to feel more realistic than it did and ended up disappointed.

Also, there were a lot of events and details that just didn't add up for me. There is a battle for power occurring between Keiran and Seth, two of the oldest boys and both potential matches for Waverly, the eldest girl. Keiran and Waverly are supposed to be in love, though Seth loves Waverly and Waverly is obviously drawn to Seth. Or that's what the reader is told anyway. I never felt like these emotions were ever shown, only told. 

While Waverly and the girls are being kept prisoner aboard the sister ship, Seth and Keiran both have their time in charge of the Empyrean and keep the other boy locked in a cell. I didn't understand how all of the others boys were so weak that they'd blindly follow either boy, no questions asked. I guess it could happen, but it didn't feel real to me. Neither boy had much basis for his arguments and neither seemed all that close to the other boys, so why were they so loyal and willing to accept whatever they were told? 

Aboard the sister ship, Waverly and the girls are being kept captive. This is confusing in multiple ways... The girls were repeatedly told they were being rescued from a doomed ship, only to find themselves being carefully watched by armed gunmen in their classroom? The girls knew they were prisoners, but those aboard the ship kept insisting they were rescues... why keep insisting that? I didn't understand the rationale. Unless the population of the Empyrean's sister ship is is composed of idiots. Which might very well be true. Amanda, one of the women that became friendly with Waverly, seems completely naive and immature... much younger, in fact, than the sixteen year old Waverly, despite the fact that she's supposed to be at least near middle aged. The only person aboard that ship that seemed to have common sense was Anne Mather, the crazy pastor and captain of the ship. 

Still, the premise of Glow is intriguing. It reminded me of the Across the Universe trilogy, but without parents. And with a much bigger emphasis on reproduction and repopulating the new world. The entire novel definitely has a sinister feel, which I appreciated.

While I finished Glow and plan to read the next installment, Spark, the plot holes and inconsistencies within the first novel were distracting and took away from the story. I'm really hoping these aspects were resolved in the second novel so I can better focus on the novel's positive aspects and leave the distractions behind.

St. Martin's Griffin, September 2011, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780312590567, 307 pages.

Check out the book trailer for Glow below:


Make sure you whisper, I'm hiding!